March 1997

Richard Tabnik Quartet
Life at the Core
New Artists Records

The first impression is of an idiosyncratic modern altoist whose early model might have been Lee Konitz. But upon closer listening, it seems that the late tenorist Warne Marsh could have been an inspiration as well, especially in the way Tabnik's lines snake around the beat, catching up with it here and there and even obscuring it on occasion. Guitarist Andy Fite, bassist Calvin Hill, and drummer Roger Mancuso do keep the metrical underpinnings secure, however. If the shrill edge to his tone is not too off-putting, the altoist's adventurous improvisations might hold the attentive listener's interest in a way that much of the contemporary rehashing of yesterday's licks cannot.

Originally published in March 1997
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